NEWS: HLF Grant - AV Festival - U.S. Ambassador visit and new volunteer workspace
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Above: Stuart Porthouse (Hon. Treas.), Catherine Miller (Pres.), His Excellency Matthew Barzun and Russell Benson (Hon. Sec)


U.S. Ambassador Visits the Mining Institute

In November the Mining Institute was honoured to host the US Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Matthew Barzun, as part of Newcastle University's Freedom City 2017 launch event.

On 13 November 1967, Newcastle University gave Dr Martin Luther King an honorary degree – the only UK university to do so during his lifetime. Remarkably, Dr King took time to visit the University to receive the award. Unusually, he then gave an acceptance speech, during which he spoke of his struggle for racial justice and the challenges in overcoming war, poverty and racism.

Drawing on these themes, the Freedom City 2017 programme will aim to bring Dr King’s legacy to life through special events, talks, exhibitions, art works, and performances. The project will involve schools, artists and voluntary groups from across the city, as well as academics from Newcastle University and a host of partner organisations.

150th Anniversary lecture and Closure of Kellingley

On 18th December, Members on the Institute convened to hear a lecture from Dr. Bill Lancaster commemorating the 150th anniversary (the following day) of the death of the Founding President, Nicholas Wood. Dr. Lancaster’s lecture focused on the extraordinary times within which the Institute was born and ‘set’ Nicholas Wood’s contribution within the group of young entrepreneurial and innovative mining engineers that he led.

It was not planned, it could not have been, but the lecture coincided with the last shift at the last deep coal mine in the country coming to the surface at Kellingley. Past President William Bell proposed a minute’s silence ‘for a great industry’. It was a profound moment in the life of the Institute.

It was the future life of the Institute that concluded the event with Development Director, Peter Stark able to announce Council’s decision the previous day to press ahead with a re-development strategy and the support that had been received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Newcastle City Council that would enable it to do so.

Members were then joined by staff and volunteers for the annual Christmas buffet in the Library. A day of powerful and very mixed emotions.

Heritage Lottery Grant awarded to the Mining Institute

Last September, NEIMME Council agreed to submit an application to the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £65,000. Just before Christmas we learnt that our application had been successful. The grant is supporting our preparation of a detailed development strategy that will, in turn, lead to further applications to the HLF in 2016 and 2017 to enable us to completely renovate and re-equip the building, properly catalogue and digitise our core specialist collection and deliver a programme of activities to benefit ‘heritage and the communities and people of the North East from a base in a sustainable business model when we re-open in 2018.

The funding also enabled Council to confirm the part-time appointment of Peter Stark OBE as Development Director. Peter had been working with us pro bono since July of last year and may be remembered from his work in the 1980s as Director of Northern Arts and then in the 1990s as Special Projects Adviser to Gateshead Council, assisting the developments on Gateshead Quays and the Millennium Bridge. In addition our long standing volunteers, Janet Whiting (Library) and David Fitzpatrick (Building and Programme Management) have now joined us as part time members of staff, enabling Librarian (Jennifer Hillyard) and Centre Manager (Simon Brooks) to devote time to the developmental aspect of our work.

Maureen enjoying our new volunteer workspace in the Oak Room

Welcome to the Oak Room!

The Mining Institute has created new volunteer workspace in the refurbished Oak Room on the ground floor of Neville Hall.  This means a warmer working environment with a additional separate break room for coffee and chat.

Do call in and see the room and especially the newly uncovered ceiling, previously hidden for over thirty years, with its ornate plaster coats of arms of the City of Newcastle, City of Durham, Northumberland and County Durham.  The Oak Room was originally designed as the Boardroom and office for the Blyth and Tyne Railway Company and then provided offices for the North Eastern Railway companies until 1897.


The World of William Brown: Steam Engines - Coalmines - Railways
by Les Turnbull

This is the story of the other “Capability Brown”, not Lancelot of Kirkharle, the famous landscape gardener, but William of Throckley, the forgotten mining engineer.  They were contemporaries who undoubtedly knew one another and may have been related; they worked for the same clients, one developing the estate above ground, the other exploiting the riches below.  William was known as ‘the father of the coal trade’ and recognised as the authority on railways and steam engines.  He played a major part in the development of the Great Northern Coalfield in the mid eighteenth century, an event of enormous economic significance not only to the landed aristocracy he served but also to the country at large.  That the gardener is remembered but the engineer, the creator of the wealth that financed many of Lancelot’s projects, is forgotten is a reflection upon the values of our society.  It is something which this book seeks to remedy.
The book will be 116 pages A4 in full colour.
Individuals are invited to support this publication by becoming a subscriber by 31st March.  By paying £15 you will be entitled to a signed copy of the book with your name among the list of subscribers and an invitation to the launch at the Mining Institute on Thursday 5th May 2016 at 6:00pm.  To enroll please supply the following information to the Librarian, Jennifer Hillyard, at the address below together with your subscription of £15 (or £20 if the book is to be posted)
Tel No:

AV Festival 2016:
Meanwhile, what about Socialism?

Sat 27 February – Sun 27 March 2016

AV Festival 2016: Meanwhile, what about Socialism? presents two installations at The Mining Institute as part of the Festival group exhibition across nine venues in Newcastle and Gateshead.

The Festival title comes from a quote in George Orwell’s book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’. In 1936, Orwell spent two months living in the industrial North observing working-class life amidst growing social injustice, poverty and unemployment. The book is an analysis of English socialism, concluding that the basis of democratic socialism is equality and fairness.

The Socialist Café: Amber Films
As Orwell was making his journey across the industrial North, in 1930s Newcastle the Socialist Café in the Royal Arcade became a meeting ground for the Left and all its factions. In the early 1980s Amber/Side Gallery interviewed veterans of Tyneside’s anti-war movement, Spanish Civil War volunteers, activists and campaigners T Dan Smith, Jack Johnson and Ken Skethaway. Shown for the first time in public, these unedited original interviews are presented looped across six monitors. The installation explores the intersecting movements and debates in the Left, from the 1917 Russian Revolution and rise of the Soviet Union to the 1945 election of the Labour Party in Britain.
Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
Tyneside Story
This propaganda film about the re-opening of the Tyneside shipyards during World War Two was made for the Ministry of Information in 1944, with a script written by Jack Common and a cast drawn from the progressive People’s Theatre in Newcastle.

Common was a Newcastle-born socialist, essayist and novelist, considered by Orwell to be ‘the authentic voice of the ordinary working man’. He was active in the 1930s Left on Tyneside being a vigorous speaker at the Socialist Café, and worked as assistant editor of The Adelphi a socialist-pacifist publication of the time. Sculptor Lawrence Bradshaw used Common’s brow as a model for the bust of Marx in Highgate Cemetery.
Courtesy of North East Film Archive.
Festival Opening Times: Tue – Sun 12–6pm, closed Mon
Closed 10 and 11 March

For more information about the whole AV Festival programme please visit:

The next General Meeting is on Thursday 17th March with Bill Tonks talking about "The Evolution of Best Practice in the UK Coal Mining Industry" at 6pm. 

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, Mike Moody's lecture on Thursday 31st March has been postponed to next year's programme.

Golf Competition: This will take place at Newbiggin Golf Club, Friday 13th May 2016. First Tee off is at 11.30am. Anyone who is interested taking part please contact the Office on 0191 232 2201.

Best wishes,
Russell Benson
Hon. Secretary
Copyright © 2016 North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, All rights reserved.

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